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ANC praises KZN chairperson’s ‘microphone grab’, but Siboniso Duma will apologise to Zulu king

ANC praises KZN chairperson’s ‘microphone grab’, but Siboniso Duma will apologise to Zulu king
From left: ANC KZN chairperson Siboniso Duma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | King Misuzulu kaZwelithini. (Photo: GCIS) | Zulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi. (Photo: Jabulani Langa / Daily Sun)

ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma will apologise to Zulu king Misuzulu kaZwelithini for grabbing the microphone from traditional Zulu prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi, an incident that has inflamed tensions between the ANC and IFP in KZN ahead of the elections.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma will on Monday visit Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini accompanied by members of the ANC KZN provincial executive committee to apologise following an incident last Saturday in KwaCeza, which resulted in violence in which 16 ANC supporters were seriously injured.

It occurred during the 110th commemoration of the death of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo. Misuzulu, President Cyril Ramaphosa, KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and other high-profile dignitaries attended the event.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

Duma, the KZN MEC for economic development and tourism and leader of KZN government business, who was the MC at the event, grabbed the microphone from Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the IFP mayor of Zululand District Municipality and the recently appointed Zulu traditional prime minister, while he was introducing the king and criticising ANC provincial leaders.

Amabutho (Zulu warriors) then threatened to approach the podium where Duma and other dignitaries were seated, urged on by Buthelezi, who was chanting Zulu war cries.

After the event, ANC supporters were attacked by people the ANC said were “IFP supporters” and 16 were seriously injured.

The incident raised fears that violence between the ANC and IFP could reignite, especially during the final phase of campaigning ahead of the 29 May general elections.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC and IFP’s fierce battle for votes in Zulu heartland could become ‘killing talk’

KZN, with 5.7 million registered voters, is set to be one of the fiercest election battlegrounds. Opinion polls suggest the province will be ruled by a coalition government, led by either the ANC or the IFP.

Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN provincial battlefield will present a major challenge to ANC’s continued grip on power

The commemoration had been initially scheduled to take place on 9 March, just a day before the IFP launched its manifesto at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium. It had to be postponed because Buthelezi and other IFP leaders were unavailable on that day.

Doubling down

ANC KZN provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo told a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday that the ANC KZN provincial executive committee had deliberated on the matter and decided that Duma must apologise and explain himself to the king.

Mtolo said the ANC did not believe that Duma erred by taking the microphone from Buthelezi, as Buthelezi had threatened during the week to use the podium to vent his anger against ANC leaders.

The ANC said it did not recognise the position of the Zulu traditional prime minister as the Constitution made no provision for the role.

“We condemn the action of certain political leaders to use their Zuluness to score cheap political points,” Mtolo said.

“We also condemn the actions of the mayor of Zululand to use his position to facilitate his political ambitions within his political party by uttering reckless statements on a public platform…

“Comrade Duma intervened when he was seeing the commemoration, [a] government event, being turned into a theatre to attack political opponents. We commend [Duma’s] actions.

“We have heeded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the ANC and the IFP in KZN to meet and discuss their differences. Hence, we have written to IFP president Mr Velenkosini Hlabisa to facilitate a meeting to iron out differences.

“We have also written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to inform him about this effort to defuse tension as we believe that the enemies of black people will rejoice if the two parties are at war.

“We, as the ANC, have reflected on the events of the past few days and we have taken a decision to go to the king on Monday and apologise for what transpired. 

“We have also clarified that Duma had no choice but to use his position to prevent the commemoration being turned into a political battleground. It is just that he sanctioned someone in public, in front of the king and the President,” Mtolo said. 

The IFP has maintained it was not its members who attacked ANC supporters, but amabutho who were angered by Duma’s actions.

“For the record, the IFP will not be drawn into the ANC-sanctioned violence. We intend on reclaiming the province of KwaZulu-Natal through the barrel of the ballot, not through the barrel of the gun,” the party said on Tuesday.

Hlabisa is scheduled to host a press conference on Friday to address issues in the province between the IFP and ANC.

Risk of violence

A political pundit said the events of the past few days signalled the potential for violence in KZN.

Zakhele Ndlovu, a senior politics lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the non-resolution of issues surrounding the Zulu monarch would be a factor in KZN in the elections.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Court battles and divisions threaten the future of the institution of Zulu monarchy

“The events at the weekend were unfortunate and have the potential of escalating violence in the province ahead of the elections. Before the event, there was political tolerance in the province and there were no longer no-go areas for any political party to campaign. This event has changed that.

“I think lessons that should be learnt here by all sides is that government functions and events should not be used to score political points. It was wrong for Buthelezi to use the podium to attack his political opponents.

“But it was also wrong for Duma to grab the microphone from Buthelezi, because that was seen as a declaration of war. Duma should have restrained himself and by doing what he did, in public, he portrayed himself as someone who is disrespectful of the Zulu king.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Patson says:

    There is a reason the British king has guardsmen and guardswomen in all their read coated glory at formal occasions — politicians never dare grab the microphone or snatch the crown from his head and do a runner.
    It must have been like something out of Monty Python, too bad the TV cameras were not there.

  • Jucy Malema says:

    He is lucky he wasn’t shot

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